21/08/2019 - 06:00
By Lynne Kelleher
A West Cork island could become the first crowdfunded private island in the world. A crowdfunding site is aiming to purchase its very own piece of paradise which will be called the Principality of Islandia.
And Mannion’s Island in picturesque Dunmanus Bay off the south coast is one of the five contenders for a Star Wars-style retreat. The website, fittingly called letsbuyanisland.com, has already raised just over €90,000 from 52 investors, and has a target of around €360,000.
The website reveals that the concept began with a conversation between friends.
“It evolved from wishful thinking into a serious — if ambitious — business plan.”
IBG, the Cayman Islands-registered corporation behind the project, is an international community of investors and travellers committed to creating a socially responsible, eco-friendly, and self-sustaining island property. The shareholders have visited various sites around the world to create a shortlist of five possible islands to buy.
Mannion’s Island in West Cork is being considered alongside Malaipo Island in the Philippines, Coffee Island in Belize, Panama Island in Panama, and Nangashanti Resort in Borneo. CEO of the company, Gareth Johnson, said the West Cork hideaway is one of the favourites among the investors.
“The two favourites — and they could not be more different — are Coffee Island in Belize and Mannion’s Island. The funny thing is we weren’t looking at non-tropical until we went to Mannion’s Island in recent weeks and it is really, really nice and there is great value for the size. It is buzzing there during the summer.”
The website points out that the Irish island located in an estuary off the coast of Co Cork is often referred to as “subtropical” due to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream.
“The island itself enjoys a relatively sheltered position, lying between two finger-like peninsulas,” said the website.
It also details how the four-acre island “has never been inhabited and historically has been used for grazing sheep in the summer months”. Local Cork auctioneer Dominic Daly said that the island has a guide price of €150,000.
“It’s in a very sheltered bay in West Cork which is very much under the influence of the Gulf Stream so that’s where the subtropical comes from. It currently belongs to a Cork man.”
The crowdfunding site speculated that it could be used for glamping in the summer months and could find potential customers in the winter months from the growing trends for meditation and prayer and fasting retreats.
“Think Luke Skywalker on that rock, or the monks of Lindisfarne, that sort of thing,” advised the website.
The current price to buy a share in the island is $3,250 (€2,927) and the organisation aims to attract no more than 150 shareholders. Becoming a citizen costs $19.99 (€18) and the plan is to have 5,000 registered citizens.